Capt. Ben Waldon is pursuing a Master of Science in Systems Engineering Management at the Naval Postgraduate School, with expected graduation in Dec. 2022. Waldon commissioned into the U.S. Army from Utah State University ROTC in 2013, where he also completed a double bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and International Studies. He also holds a MBA in International Business from Southern New Hampshire University.
Waldon began his Army career as an Armor Officer at his first duty assignment with 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany. After serving as a platoon leader, human resources officer, and executive officer, he transitioned to the Army’s Adjutant General Corps in 2017. Waldon continued his career as a human resources officer with 3rd Security Forces Assistance Brigade in Fort Hood, Texas, before beginning his education at NPS in June 2021. Waldon transferred to the U.S. Space Force in Sept. 2021.
After being selected for the Army Acquisition Corps, I reviewed several Universities, including Georgetown, George Washington University, and Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), all of which had reputable acquisition programs (government contracting or project management type degrees). I also sought out various mentors on the Army’s Acquisition Facebook page and those who I had served with for years to see what skills I would need to hone to provide the best value to the military. All recommendations seemed to line up with what the NPS 522 program offered - systems engineering, project management, and contract management.
The most impactful part of NPS resides with the wealth and diversity of talent among the faculty and the guest speakers they bring to the classroom. In the 522 program, we have had professors and guest speakers who have significant experience in the industry, and government project and contract management, and systems engineering.
I am currently in the MSSEM 522 – systems engineering management program. The United States Space Force and its integration of competencies within its talent management serve as the main component of my curriculum capstone. The Team and I are taking a mixed methods approach using qualitative research to generate specific variables that we can model and run simulations that will output into recommendations for how the USSF should integrate competencies within a talent marketplace. The 522 program and the project management certificate are providing a significant baseline of knowledge for my next assignment, as I am coming from an Armor and HR background.
I desire to become a commander and a Project Manager while serving in the USSF. My time at NPS and experience in the Army have provided a view through which I have decided that I want to continue leading, problem-solving, and building teams around delivering the best solutions for the USSF. The Army was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t change for anything – but the Space Force was a way for me to employ my skills to assist in the building of a brand new component of the military. I want to be part of the history, and I volunteered my skills to the Space Force in hopes that I would make it better by being a part of the organization.
In the 522 program, we are required to execute a capstone project as a graduation requirement.
This project pairs students with real stakeholders that have real problems needing real solutions. Currently, my capstone group works directly with the USSF to provide solutions to real problems. These cooperative projects and similar programs available at NPS provide significant value across all the components supported here at NPS.